Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder present Elvis Presley in Jailbreak Rock!
Hey, happy birthday, Elvis. A day late, but happy birthday anyway.
Had Elvis lived he'd be 71. Wow. Who could imagine a gyrating, hip-swinging Elvis of 71? It'd be like Mick Jagger still rocking in his sixties, dancing around on stage. Whoops. Mick Jagger is still rocking in his sixties, so maybe if Elvis had lived past 40 he'd still be going, still throwing his weight around (ouch...that was mean) in Las Vegas.
In 1958 rock 'n' roll was still a mostly new phenomenon, although Elvis had been around for a couple of years and made his presence well known everywhere. Humbug, the little humor magazine owned by an artists cooperative consisting of Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Will Elder, Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth, et al., didn't miss a beat when it came to depicting Elvis. Jailhouse Rock was a huge hit, both as a song and as a movie, and this parody, short and succinct, captures both the look and feel of the movie and of Elvis' popularity.
Will Elder's artwork is great, even though it's hampered by the horrible printing Charlton Press did on Humbug. You can still see enough of it to see that a few years before Little Annie Fanny, he was still as great as he was in Mad. Every panel is as funny as anything he did for Mad, and as packed with gags as anything he ever drew. Check out the splash panel and the Teamsters band! Also check out the next to last panel of the story. The "band" consists of Jimmie Dodd and the Mouseketeers, Elvis has a copy of Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler on his U.S. Army blanket, along with a copy of his draft notice. Pretty good for one small panel, and the whole story is like that!
The story is obviously written by Harvey Kurtzman. He didn't sign it but his signature style is all over it.
So, Elvis, wherever you are, hope you had a hunk-a, hunk-a birthday cake.